Local seasoning: 3 area players on Bay College’s first women’s basketball team

Westwood's Caitlin Hewitt, left, makes her way to the basket while guarded by Ishpeming's Jessica Penhale during the 2013-14 season in Ishpeming. (Journal file photo)

Bay Norse women’s roster

No. Name Yr. Pos

Ht. School

2 Saige Rogers Fr. G 5-5 Indianapolis Maual

10 Paige Welch Fr. G 5-6 Bark River-Harris

14 Caitlin Hewitt So. G 5-4 Westwood

Ishpeming’s Marissa Maino secures a rebound in Class C district tournament game against Munising on March 1 in Negaunee. (Journal file photo by Rachel Oakley)

15 MyAizia Allen Fr. G 5-4 Milwaukee Riverside

20 Justice Kinnunen Fr. F 5-6 Baraga

21 Jordan Kraemer Fr. G 5-8 Norway

22 Jordan Belleville Fr. G 5-8 St. Ignace

24 Teidra Fuson Fr. F 5-10 Norway

44 Marissa Maino Fr. F 5-8 Ishpeming

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ESCANABA — The Bay College women’s basketball team is gearing up to open its inaugural season Wednesday when it hosts the University of Wisconsin-Marinette.

“I’m excited and the girls are excited,” Bay coach Rae Drake Jr. said. “It’s the first year ever having a program and it’s an exciting time. I’m looking forward to it and so are the girls.”

In the first year of the program, Drake just hopes to have his team prepared for whatever comes its way.

“My expectations are always to be competitive,” he said. “I think people will always come to watch teams that work hard and play with passion. I think we’ll win our share of games but I’m not going to put a number on that. I just think people will enjoy watching us play.”

Just like any young team, the Norse will have to find an identity and Drake has an idea of what he wants his team to look like.

“I want to play good man-to-man defense, but I know we’ll have to play some zone this year defensively,” Drake said. “Offensively, we’d like to get down the floor and play as up-tempo as we can.”

Bay has recruited nine players this season, including Norway’s Jordan Kraemer, who the Norse expect to be a major player for them and lead the team into its first season.

Kraemer headlined the 2016-17 All-Upper Peninsula Dream Team as well as being named Class A-B-C Player of the Year.

“Jordan Kraemer is an excellent basketball player,” Drake said. “I expect her to play multiple positions. It’s a big job to ask of somebody, but Jordan can handle it. She’s extremely competitive and she’s just going to get better as the season goes on.”

Westwood graduate Caitlin Hewitt is another player expected to contribute and will bring some leadership as the only sophomore on a team full of freshmen. Hewitt transferred to Bay after playing at Finlandia University and Concordia University.

“Caitlin has been very good and she’s a great shooter,” her coach said. “She’s a real tough, real hard-nosed girl.”

Baraga product Justice Kinnunen is another player Drake expects to do some good things for the Norse and somebody who will continue to get better as the season goes on.

Other players on the team include Ishpeming graduate Marissa Maino, along with Saige Rogers, MyAizia Allen, Jordan Belleville, Teidra Fuson and Bark River-Harris’ Paige Welch.

“All the players have their own strengths,” Drake said. “I’m just real proud of them and their effort.”

The Norse haven’t played a game yet, but Drake has already noticed some strengths that his team has that will help them.

“I think we shoot the ball pretty well,” he said. “We haven’t shot the ball well in scrimmaging, but I think that’s because we’re just starting to know each other. I think it will be stronger as the season progresses.”

Along with strengths also comes weaknesses that the Norse will have to work on.

“To be totally honest we need to rebound the ball,” Drake said. “We are not really big so we have to be really tenacious on the boards. Rebounding the ball offensively and defensively is something that needs to be addressed every day.”

The Norse play a 29-game schedule starting Wednesday. They will play other regional schools like Finlandia and Gogebic, and Drake is looking forward to seeing how his team stacks up against that type of competition this year.

“Those are some real key games because when kids really want to play basketball at our level … they decide between Gogebic, Marinette and Bay,” said Drake. “So those teams want to look good against each other in those games.”